Freshly cut grass and a nearby taco truck. That’s what freedom smells like in the outside world. At school, at any given second, the dismissal bell was to ring releasing us into that world where paying attention in class would be overruled by socializing with friends. And moments before my classmates raced out the door is right when I saw it happen. Next to Johnny’s shoes his pencil rolled from his desktop before landing under the chair. Like an incident in slow motion, the pencil tossed about a bit before coming to settle in what we commonly refer to as “no man’s land.” Aka….the floor. So every day bits of our school supplies are left forgotten in “no man’s land.” Stockpiling pencils, glue sticks, erasers and such have an importance that always gets trumped by freedom. That’s okay. We don’t mind. Somehow, someway, new supplies always turn up ready for us to use on another day. With time, summer came and went and across town Joey was anxiously waiting for school to start. He was mostly excited to see classmates who were friends at school but not outside of. He was ready to approach the new year with a new backpack, new school clothes, and a well stocked stash of school supplies. And most of all, he was eager to scope out the purchases that dad brought through the door. “My new backpack! Sweet!,” he cried as he held it high in the air. But as he looked through the rest of his new school gear everything appeared to be just a little…’off.’ Joey was confused. None of his supplies had the usual packaging. Some items appeared to be used a bit before being placed back in the cellophane. Even his Crayola crayons were not in their usual green and gold box. Joey opened the box and peeked inside. Hmmm…all of the main colors appeared to be their but the points were not as pointy as they should be. His notebooks were bound with paper that had already been used on one side. And his pencils had already been presharpened! Joey grew even more confused. He looked up at his dad who was watching with reserve the entire time. In a loud, husky voice Joey cried,”I don’t know where you’ve been doin’ your shopping man! But either these supplies have been used or somebody’s been messin’ with my goods!” What would your children say if you gave them supplies from “no man’s land?”
This is a story I plan on giving to the students on the last day of school. It will coincide with the 18 rooms I clean after school and the school supplies I have collected off the floor since the beginning of the school year. Nearly 2,000 perfectly fine pencils, along with hundreds of everything else. They don’t seem to realize that even if I were to pick up 2 pencils from every classroom, at the end of the night I would have 36. By Friday I would have 164. I’ll let you know their reactions when they see the display. I would love to hear your comments about what your children would say if you gave them supplies from “no man’s land.”
The fate of the two painted pumpkin heads had finally been determined in the 5th grade classroom. “Should I haul them to the dumpster?” I asked the teacher. She replied, “Well, it is nearly Christmas and fall is over, so I guess. Will they eventually rot if I don’t toss them?” I told her yes. It was nearly dismissal time and the students were bustling about getting their coats and hats on. “Does anybody want these before you go home?” she called out. Most of the students didn’t reply but carried on with their own business. One of the boys standing next to her said, “No, we don’t want them,” but his classmate jumped in and said, “No…Tyler wait! We can use them for target practice!” And each one of the two boys tucked a pumpkin head under his arm before heading to the bus. Ahh yes…what better way for a pumpkin to spend the holidays than to be perched on a fencepost getting a BB between the eyes! Seasons Greetings From Montana Everyone!
In light of the holidays approaching, my plan was to buy all eco-friendly toys for my grandson this year. So in order to find out what sort of things caught his eye, I took him to a local department store the other day. On the shelf I found a small, handmade wooden car with no bells and whistles or a remote control. I handed it to him. With lack of enthusiasm he gave it a gentle shake and said, “Grandma, I think this car needs new batteries.” When I told him the car doesn’t have batteries he then asked, “Well, what does it do?” “You’re supposed to make it go by itself,” I said. “Oh,” he replied putting the car back. I found this puzzling since he plays with his Hot Wheels cars with no problem. He even makes the sounds of revving engines and artificial dispatch calls. So what gives?? Granted the little, wooden car didn’t have chrome or decal flames but I’m sure it could still travel at the same child propelled speed! So if I were to put a group of children in a room with nothing but eco-friendly toys would their style of play become different? In third world countries children make their own toys. Maybe if I were to toss Rylan into a melting pot of a third world play group things would be different. I know he has an imagination…I just don’t want it to become stagnant. And I hope he’ll be more happy with the Fat Brain Marble Run that I purchased more than he would with a little, wooden car.
The question is..is how do you teach children to recycle when they live in a community that doesn’t recycle? There is no recycling center nearby and so everyone just tosses all their waste into one, giant cesspool of litter. There’s no sorting of paper, plastic , aluminum or glass. Just one giant conglomerate of this and that. I know if the people in this community cared enough (and they should with the rapidly increasing population because of the oil boom), that so much more could be done. This has been a matter that has been weighing heavily on my mind since I started working at the grade school. And what’s even worse is that the children can’t even learn to upcycle when they attend a school that doesn’t offer art. For just one day I would like to have them sort what they toss. For just one day I would like to have those kindergarteners color with melted down nubs of crayons. For just one day I would like their new papers to be copied onto the back of something old. For even just one day I would like them to learn what the landfill is and that even big holes fill up fast. Maybe even one day will eventually turn into two.
For the past few days those Sweet Ballz have been working their way from an end cap at the grocery store up to the checkout stands. Lyn was the one who spotted them first. “I think I’ll get these,” she said in passing. I held out my hand and she passed them over. As I glanced at the Ping-Pong ball size and various flavors and colors, (red, white and brown) I couldn’t stop myself from asking her if they were a gift for her husband. “No,” she said, “they just looked good.” I pointed at one of the ballz through the cellophane and said to Lyn,”Oh dear! Did you know that you have a…” “That’s right,” she said cutting me off, ” I even have a dent in one of my Sweet Ballz.” “Do you want to trade?” I suggested. “Naw, that’s okay. They all go down the same.” By this time I was laughing hysterically and the line at the check stand was beginning to grow. “Alrighty then!” I exclaimed wiping my tears of laughter. But if it were up to me I would’ve swapped out that 4 pack of Sweet Ballz with the ding being the perfectionist that I am. Nobody should have to pay for dented Sweet Ballz!
I thought I’d take a moment to blog about a gift that Keely had recently sent to me. Actually it was a subscription to a monthly package called, “The Conscious Box” and I love it. The aim of it all is to get the recipient to try various all-natural, organic and eco-friendly products that they otherwise might never try. Each month the box is full of samples from food, to supplements, to beauty products and cleaning supplies. The box I received today contained Amki Sesame Snaps, a chocolate chip CLIFF bar, an Honest Kids juice pouch, instant reishi, Everly peach mango drink mix, hemp hearts and a fruit and vegi wash that removes, chemicals, waxes and pesticides. And all of these items were just to name a few! The thing about this gift is that Keely really put a lot of thought into finding something that totally suited me and it was also something out of the ordinary. I think all of us can say that we really appreciate it when somebody takes the time to invest in a well thought out gift. And even though the Honest Kids juice pouch packaging is a far cry from being as environmentally friendly as it’s content I’m willing to overlook that fact just this once. (Juice pouches and baby food pouches NEVER break down in the landfill). I would encourage everyone out there who loves the world they live in to give Conscious Box a try. Expand your horizons! It will be good for you!
Today I noticed the sticker on my banana said: GRILL. Nothing more, just that. So it got me to wondering if people actually grill bananas and how exactly is it done. Do they put them on a skewer first along with their shrimp, chicken and pineapple or just flip them upside down and let them sizzle. I’ve heard of more peculiar things by other people from other places such as crawfish or alligator (which neither of those things we eat in Montana), but never a grilled banana. Rocky Mountain Oysters,…yes…buffalo burgers,…yes…deer jerky,…yes. Does anyone ever remember that episode of the Golden Girls when Rose was getting teased for making plans to return to her hometown of St. Olaf, Minnesota to eat some Trout On A Stick at the county fair? I would love having some Rainbow Trout on a stick if there really were such a thing. Anyway, I Googled the “How to” when I got home from work and discovered a video where this guy sliced a banana sideways leaving the peel on one side, glazed the banana with rum and tossed it on the grill. It looked awesome. If anyone has ever eaten a grilled banana before or would like to try it, report back and comment below to let me know how it was.